Saturday, November 9, 2013



This is the time of year when the falling leaves and the liturgy conspire to turn our thoughts once again to the so-called "last things," the end-time and our own mortality.

Coincidentally, today, November 9, is the feast of the dedication of the Pope’s parish Church in Rome, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.  Many of the readings and songs on this feast add to the theme of the end time: the Church as the communion of saints in heaven and on earth, for example, and the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem coming down from heaven.

As I was reflecting on these things this morning I thought of the words of the Creed we recite each Sunday, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come,” and the equivalent in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


If I’m not careful I can start thinking of “life everlasting” in terms of the only life I really know: My life just keeps going on forever... and ever... for countless billions of years. Now, I don’t know how that makes you feel, but that prospect makes me want to yawn. After a few billion years it would get boring as hell.

The good news is that that Jesus Christ adds to this concept something absolutely crucial: We’re not just “immortal humans,” but we’re given the literally indescribable gift of living in Him and in the Father in a union of LOVE. It’s indescribable. St. Paul warns us not to bother wondering about what it will actually be like, because we’ll never even begin to come close to the truth:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Cor.2:9) 


But even this can leave us with simply the belief of "pie in the sky when we die" unless we make
still another escape from our limited human way of thinking. More good news: Jesus assures us "The Kingdom of God is among you." Our transformation has already begun! We are already being transformed into Christ. We are His presence wherever we are, whether in our workplace or at home or at the mall, we are Christ. And so is each person we encounter. Heaven is breaking in all round us today, here and now. 


In the gospel for Sunday, Nov. 10, the Sadducees, who do not believe in a resurrection of the dead, ask Jesus the inane question about whose wife will that widow of seven husbands be. They do that deliberately to try to make Jesus look silly. But in our unguarded moments we who believe in a resurrection of the dead can also ask equally inane questions: Will there be pepperoni pizza in Heaven? Will I see my dog Fido in Heaven? Will there be soccer in heaven? What age will my resurrected body be in heaven? Those are bad questions. Paul's advice to the Corinthians is worth repeating here: 

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Cor.2:9) 

Jesus offers us a much more positive set of question to ask:

- How am I reflecting God's boundless love to the people around me?
- How am I being Christ to my sisters and brothers today?
- How am I already living out the life of God's eternal love in my home, my place of work?

These are the things we need to be worried about. We need to be building up the Kingdom NOW, foreshadowing and even hastening the everlasting love of heaven.

Let God worry about the pizza and the pets in heaven!  

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